The Hofsas House in Carmel, Calif., is celebrating its 60th birthday this year. // © 2011 Hofsas House
Guestrooms range from $149 to $229 per night, depending on the room type. Commission: 10 percent.
Where to Eat
Looking for a taste of Basque Country in Carmel? Open since May 2009, Mundanka features upscale Spanish-style tapas in a playful, yet sophisticated, setting. Guests can dine on Jamon Iberico, Southern Spain’s famous acorn-fed, black-foot pig or share a traditional seafood paella. Other mouth-watering dishes include cauliflower gratin with gruyere cheese, braised albacore tuna topped with a forty-minute egg and black truffle pate served with whole grain mustard and toast.
Although it’s a 15-minute drive from Carmel in Pacific Grove, this 28-year-old European restaurant with Mediterranean roots is well worth the trip. Locals come to Fandago for the rack of lamb prepared on a wood-burning grill, but the giant calamari, wild abalone and fillet of local sanddabs are not to be missed. And the hand-crafted deserts — such as coffee ice cream profiteroles or the souffle du jour — are nothing short of outstanding.
What to Do
Formerly a whaling station, Point Lobos State Reserve offers everything from sandy beaches and tide pools to cypress groves and pine forests. Located about a mile south of Carmel, the reserve is an ideal spot for a hike, walk or sunset picnic along the rocky coastline. Visitors can also get a glimpse endemic wildlife, including deer, pelicans, hawks, herons, sea lions and an occasional whale.
Not many cities can count Clint Eastwood as its former mayor but, to be quite frank, the seaside town of Carmel, Calif., is not your typical city. There are no street addresses around town — businesses are simply described by their location in relation to Carmel’s main thoroughfare, Ocean Avenue, and as being on either the east or west side of a particular street. With Carmel’s top-notch restaurants, wine tasting rooms, art galleries and scenic beaches, there’s plenty to see and do, but leave the stilettos at home — high heel shoes are outlawed by a city ordinance.
Accordingly, Carmel is a city best explored by foot, so it only makes sense to stay at a hotel located close to all of the action. On my recent visit, I chose the conveniently located Hofsas House, a Bavarian-themed hotel that is celebrating its 60th birthday this year. Of the city’s 44 inns, Hofsas House is one of the few that offers ocean views. And, unlike most other properties in Carmel, Hofsas House features a heated swimming pool, a dry sauna and a meeting room for groups of up to 50 individuals. I was also attracted to this property for its added value including free parking, complimentary in-room, Wi-Fi access and daily continental breakfast.
“Hofsas House is all about comfort. We are family-owned, friendly and not trying to be pretentious,” said general manager Carrie Theis, who is the granddaughter of Hofsas House founder, Donna Hofsas. “This is an opportunity for people to enjoy Carmel at a reasonable price.”
Each of the hotel’s 38 guestrooms is individually styled, some with antique furniture that once belonged to Theis’ grandmother. Guestrooms feature amenities such as fireplaces, wet bars, kitchens or patios that overlook the newly refinished pool area. When booking this hotel, request a guestroom that has a newly renovated bathroom (the hotel is in the process of upgrading all of its bathroom facilities). For families traveling on a budget, the two-bedroom suites with full kitchens, measuring from 800-900 square feet, are a good fit and can sleep up to six people. A wheelchair-accessible room is also available.
Most guests will want to walk to the nearby beach, and they should take advantage of the hotel’s bonfire service. For $65, the staff will provide a bundle of firewood, marshmallows for roasting and blankets for keeping warm when the temperature cools down as it tends to do in the evenings. A nearby deli stocks all the fixings for an ideal picnic, and both dogs and alcoholic beverages are welcomed on the sand.
While there is no restaurant at Hofsas House (only five hotels in the area offer full-service dining venues), a number of excellent eateries, cafes and wine tasting rooms are short walks away.
“The experience of Carmel is unique because our walking community is more concerned with natural beauty and older architecture. Therefore, we encourage our guests to get out and explore Carmel and get a sense of its European charm,” said Theis. “There are no corporate hotels here and no glitz. Our community is quant and quiet — just like we like it.”
Through Oct. 31, the Hofsas House is offering the Celebrate Family package, which is ideal for family reunions or small groups. In addition to complimentary continental breakfast, wine and cheese upon arrival and a family portrait session on the beach, the Celebrate Family package includes a reduced group rate, starting at $125 per night, excluding tax, when five or more rooms are booked. Clients can also book the Poolside Meeting Facility for a discounted rate of $75. The offer does not apply to existing groups and is subject to availability.